• Nadine Almer

Day 136 - 149: Rough Revelations

17.5. - 30.5.2021

Wednesday, 26th of May

I lost myself completely.

The weight of the world seemed to drag me down when I woke up. Whereas usually I would turn off the alarm, then to Marjorie for her morning belly rub and get up, preparing for the day ahead, this time every movement came from the autopilot within. I wasn’t fully awake until I got dressed and suddenly felt the urge to burst into tears. It was so surprising and so unfamiliar to me that I, still caught in my routine, simply shook my head to get rid of the urge and got on with my day.


As I had my morning briefing over a cup of tea, the tasks ahead seemed undoable, simply too much. But I had learned to just keep my focus on one step at a time, once again I shook off the strange urge to cry. Obviously my kind host Stewart noticed something, my watery eyes gave me away. Uttering regret about binge eating cake without any self-control the night before, I tried to make it sound casual. I sincerely thought that I simply had an episode of self-loathing for losing my discipline and giving in to my sugar addiction, to old behavioural patterns. Although concerned for my well-being, Stewart had no reason not to believe me when I said I just needed to get on and start working, why wouldn’t he? As an adult I should be able to know what was best for me, shouldn’t I? The more so as with my background of mental health issues, I was equipped with tools to resolve them.


To be honest I really thought I could just go on, it would work itself out because that was what normally would happen if I woke up with a feeling of unease. Underestimating the intensity of the emotions within, I made it through the morning but realised with every hour that passed that I was totally off. I could not bring my attention to the tasks ahead, instead I felt disconnected from my body and everything around me, all the while wanting to burst into tears and hide beneath a blanket in my room, sit it out, sleep it away. My body moved, I did work, but somehow something else was operating it, because I was totally absorbed within my head. There was no energy for affirmations or any thoughts that would ease the numbness, sadness, despair inside my heart. Every attempt I took to return to remember gratitude, focus on the warmth of the rays of sun, the sound of the wind in the leaves, everything that usually cheered me up and soothed me, was reduced to a cynical comment by a voice inside my head. I was so caught up in my mind that I did not even see the similarities to past experiences.

By lunchtime I knew that I was incapable of doing a good job today. Anxiety hit me at the sheer thought of proposing a half day off today for a half day of work on Saturday instead- how could I make it sound reasonable? What should I say? Was it even alright to ask?

The inner voice corrupted me and was telling me to stop whining, get on with it and not be such a depressed loser when there literally was no reason at all to feel that way, I was living my dream, I was fortunate, I was behaving like an ungrateful child. What convinced me in the end to tell Stewart the truth, I do not know. It came quickly, like a reflex, and I simply bursted out with the truth.

I enjoy working, I give it my all, I want to do a thorough and good job- today, I am sorry to say I do not feel able to achieve that, would it be okay to take half a day off and make Saturday a half day of work instead.

No questions asked, immediately followed by understanding and acknowledgement in his eyes and the kindest, considerate words that told me to do whatever I needed to do in order to feel better. It was surreal, being honest about a non physical hindrance, and this person opposite me showed not only compassion and support, he believed me and took what I said seriously. I am used to the people closest to me understanding what mental instability meant and that it was a reality for the person going through it, for they all have seen what it did to me. Someone that only knows me for one month though was something else. It moved me so much that the tears I had prevented the whole morning simply shot out and I was treated to even more kindheartedness, a very much needed and appreciated hug.

The first thing I thought about was sleep. Maybe all of this was due to a lack of sleep, a lack of being able to sleep, I cherish sleep, I love sleep, it probably had to do with not enough sleep. So after I finished the most important tasks of the day, that I had started and simply needed to finish for a good conscious, I went upstairs, had a shower and sat on my bed. On the contrary to what I had thought I would need, my gaze fell onto my journal. What if I would write everything off my chest and had a nap afterwards, a nap full of freedom after letting out everything that was on my mind?

Without having a concept, simply by taking my journal, cuddling up in a blanket on the bed and looking on a blank page, something stirred in me. Write to this Self that feels so trapped, lonely, desperate and sad. Write to your beloved Self, embrace these emotions, they might make more sense if you stop fighting them, if you would just stop seeing them as something unwanted. Maybe they will be more logical, explicable even, if you remove the label ‘negative’?

And so I wrote:

 

Dear beloved Self


I know we are having a hard time right now, today specifically. I know we feel like crap, as if we did no work on our shared self whatsoever. I know how tragic it is to be stuck within this head of ours with this voices that bombards us with cynicism and put all efforts, to read or try to gain back lightness and positivity, to shame.

This body we have feels awkward, like a sausage ready to explode, no longer coping with the exploitation we put it through over the years. The endless sugar cravings, the times we threw up, the times we did not, the weight gain and weight loss, the body shame, mostly put onto us by our shared mind. These voices in our head that tell us we are not good enough, never thin enough and most certainly in no way beautiful, or loveable. I know it has been almost twenty years, maybe more, certainly for as long as we can remember, that we loathed our appearance. As though our soul was put into a body with the sole purpose that others could laugh about us, make fun of us.

And I know how it feels to be back within this frame of mindset that we worked so hard to let go off. Isn’t that what hurts the most? What hits the hardest? That we thought we will not ever return to this dark realm of broken dreams and darkest thoughts. Four years of daily work and yet, out of the blue, today we revisit what once was our daily routine. And we cannot find a way out of it, petrified, mortified, horrified. How fragile happiness, content, positivity, all of what we are so accustomed to, are.

BUT.

But let me tell you one thing: Perspective.

Perspective found in exactly what shocks us the most. Remember where we started our journey. Remember that this was our daily routine. Remember the hollowness of our days and how deep we were caught in self-loathing our shared self. Remember how we treated others, remember how we used to silent this feeling of not being enough. Remember all the money spend on shopping to silence out the voices that told us we were not good enough. Remember the binge eating attacks and the endless nights of smoking Marijuana to find some way out of a mind that told us we are not loved or cared for. Remember the episodes of depression when we locked our shared self away from the world, sometimes for weeks, just to escape our reality of being made fun of, of random people in the streets looking at us in disgust and whispering about how ugly and deformed we are. Remember our social anxiety because socialising meant being judged and found guilty of not belonging. Remember all of the pain, the hurt, the tears, the struggles, the negativity. Remember it, never forget it, feel through it, live through it.

And then let it go.

Breath, sigh, breath some more.

And then let it go.

BECAUSE.

Because we have worked hard. We have worked, constantly, this autumn it will be four years. We have worked every single day for four years and for once, right here and right now, today, for once, we will applaud us! We will put into perspective that having a rough episode of a backlash of a bad day from the past, does not mean that we still have this frame of mindset. We will applaud because it is a blessing. It truly is for it makes us see where we came from and where we are now. We just need to stop labelling it as bad, feel it, embrace it, acknowledge it, remember it, honour it - and then be glad to let it go. You are a different now and you can be so very proud of yourself. You know your worth, we both do, now, and days like this one are here to take time to reflect on how far we have come.

I love you.

You are enough, more than that, you are special.

Love our shared Self.

 

After that I fell asleep and woke about an hour and a half later. The sky was still blue, the few fluffy clouds where still fluffy and white, the sun was still shining bright. But I was different. I felt lighter than before and with every passing minute this feeling increased, the self I was used to, the self that appreciated nature and people and herself, returned. I took Marjorie for a walk around the area to get some sunlight and inspiration came back. By dinner time my smile had returned. This most difficult, challenging day turned into a life lesson, it seemed. When I returned from my walk in Tullymore Park later that same evening, to which Stewart had taken me for the duration of his run and swim with a friend, I truly was myself again.

In hindsight, and the reason why I only describe this single day instead of the whole of the two weeks that had passed since my last post is, this one day taught me so much. And I want to give it the tribute it deserves. The most significant day within this last two weeks, maybe even one of the most significant days for self-growth and life lessons, deserves a singled out blog entry. I shall never forget what I was lucky enough to learn.


1. Communication

Stewart is kind and considerate. Nonetheless it has been challenging to talk about what got into me. The fact that I was not enjoying work because my mind took the breath of life out of me, is not something I wanted to share with a person who does not really know me and whom I, do not really know as well. There is a strong part in me that aims for perfection in order to be enough, which roots basically in a deep craving for appreciation and love. Saying that I was incapable of completing the assigned tasks without any physically detectable hindrance, admitting to a mental “weakness”, made me feel ashamed and therefore not worthy of being appreciated. This deep inner wound triggered me and inside of me a battle ignited. On one side the wounded part telling me that under no circumstance ever was I allowed to not fulfil what was expected of me, on the other side a voice that told me I was worth nothing and somewhere in between another, less rooted, less vibrant core, making me feel like I simply could not go on without breaking into tears, breaking down.

First agreed to the afternoon jobs that Stewart talked to me about. One second later, I turned around, left the job I was doing where it was, went after him into his office and shyly admitted that I did not feel able to do them. There was no thought process or decision making, I think it was one glorious second of my healing voice, the part that had grown through healing and learning to self-love, taking over and take a leap of faith. I felt the tears and with them the shame rising up, both for my weakness of not putting in the work and me tearing up in the first place.

But what followed were encouraging, understanding words and a hug. Unconditional acceptance. That is what it was and I only had this experience very few times in my life. I am beyond grateful that Stewart presented me with this gift precisely then and there, when I needed it the most, as if my life hung upon it.

And not only that, my friends and former hosts in Scotland, gifted me with what they had to offer through the distance between us, to make me feel “at home” with them again. They sent me a few videos of the dogs in action that made me both laugh and tear up again because I missed them so much, loving words of encouragement and a photo of wide open arms, a big hug picture.

What I learned?

Communicate your pain, you do not have to go through it alone and you should not go silent when support could be found in the most unexpected places and ways.


2. Labeling

We are conditioned as a society to strive towards happiness. Always positive, beware of negativity. Put labels on feelings and be prejudiced about which feelings are good or bad. Very much like the core message of the Disney Pixar movie “Inside Out”. Toxic positivity that leaves no place for emotions like sadness, anger, disappointment or melancholy. Illustrated perfectly is the outcome when we suppress these emotions, bottle them up, hide them.

What surprised me most about this day was that I should have known better. I went through two burnouts and I am on the road to recovery, the process of healing for four years now. Yet, it hit me hard and for a full half day I was not able to know what to do, I did not even know what it was. Like quicksand I sunk into the darkness I created for myself and because the tools that usually helped me finding a way out did not work this time, I gave into cynicism and hopelessness.

All I preach, all day everyday, is the spectacular now (not the movie although I would like to mention and recommend it).

The spectacular now, the state of flow, the art of effortless being. That is what I am all about, that is a huge part of my travel adventure and why I wanted to do this in the first place. But then something like a reminder of the old ways comes along and I totally blank on exactly this letting it flow. Instead I judge these emotions, myself and create my very own quicksand, mental state edition.

Labelling something, judging something, is not healthy. It was healthy when we needed to make decisions to take action, let the fight or flight instinct kick in and either run from or fight the mammoth. It is not healthy or necessary in the life I lead today. There simply is no immediate danger, just danger of overlooking the greater picture and the possibilities taken by judgment. Because our judgements are based on past events, shortcuts formed by our brain to make our daily life flow smoothly within a routine.

I do not strive for routine therefore I do not need labelling. A rough day indicates that it is not a labelled “bad” day, just a different kind of challenge to become aware, treat accordingly and appreciate as something to be experienced, maybe even be grateful for. Without a label, everything is a wonder, and that is what I want to be all about.

3. Perspectives

I really need to do that more regularly. It feels amazing and I wonder if it comes to other people naturally, without the need to learn it as a skill. For me though it was a discovery, a very special one, and it still is a skill to learn. I did not learn it from my own experience, I was lucky because I was permitted to be of humble support for someone else in their struggles. As an outsider I could see objectively how far the other person has come, what amazing progress they had made, even though they themselves could not see it. Pointing it out to them made their eyes open wide and a tiny sparkle appeared within them.

Perspectives show me where I was and where I am, how I am progressing, where I am progressing to and if I need to make adjustments. Perspectives give me a reason to praise and applaud myself, if adequate. Perspectives give me, well, perspective.

For now I am pretty proud of myself. I am making progress, I am learning everyday and I am enjoying having revelations, might they even come through challenging days. For now I am also proud because if my honesty in describing my challenges might just reach one person out there, if I can be of service for just one soul, all of it was worth it. Which is why I spoke about all of the above in my second Vlog on YouTube, if you are interested in watching, here is the link.

Thank you all for your support and thoughts.

Love and light, beloved souls

Nadine


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